Gravel mulch can be an attractive addition to certain parts of your landscape. Prime areas include places where you need better drainage or where few plants grow and thrive. The following can help you install gravel the correct way.
1. Remove All the Turf
All turf, which includes grass as well as weeds, must be removed from the site before you can install the gravel mulch. Otherwise the plants will simply regrow and ruin your newly mulched area. Generally, by removing the top 8 to 10 inches of soil you can get all the roots from the more shallowly rooted grasses and weeds. Woodier tap roots may need to be dug out, since these can extend a foot or more into the ground.
2. Compact and Sand
You can further decrease the amount of weed incursion by compacting the soil and then adding a thick layer of compacted sand to make it more difficult for anything to root in the site. You can rent small compactors for small-scale home use. First, compact the soil. Then, add sand to within an inch or two of the surrounding soil level and compact the sand down. Add more sand and compact as necessary until the level of the sand it about 3 to 4 inches below that of the surrounding soil.
3. Install a Strong Underlayment
A quality geotextile fabric, or landscaping fabric, serves two purposes. First, it helps prevent weeds from growing in the mulched area. More importantly, it prevents the gravel from migrating into the surrounding soil. The fabric should be laid as a solid sheet with no holes. If the area is too large for a single sheet, then overlap the edges by several inches so there are no open joints between fabric pieces.
4. Edge In the Area
Edging will save a lot of headaches later on, simply because it will contain the gravel to the desired area so you aren't constantly picking rocks out of your lawn. Choose an edging that extends several inches below ground as well a 2 or 3 inches above ground. Rubber edging is cost effective and common, but you can also use concrete curbing, bricks, or stones to create an attractive and useful edge.
5. Install Your Gravel
Once the area is prepared you can install your gravel. Generally, you want at least a 3 inch deep layer so that the landscape fabric doesn't show and weather. Gravel mulch should not rest against the trunks or stems of any plants, so pull it back to provide a small gap. You may need to rake the gravel periodically to keep it level and to remove any weeds that try to seed in it.
Contact a gravel delivery service for more help.